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Connecticut juvenile defense attorneyIn recent decades, more and more attention has been given to bullying in schools. Teasing, psychological torment, cyberbullying through social media, and other forms of bullying often escalate into physical altercations. In many cases, it is hard to know which individual started a fight at school. Altercations can develop in a matter of seconds and teachers do not always see the circumstances that led up to a child being involved in a fight. If your son or daughter has been arrested and accused of school violence or bullying, it is important to learn about your child’s legal rights and options.

Understand Your Child’s Rights Under the Law

Your child has most of the same basic rights as an adult after being arrested. This includes the right to avoid self-incrimination and remain silent. Anything your child says to the police can be used against them. A child also has the right to contact their parent or guardian after being arrested. When you can talk to your child, encourage them to assert their rights and decline police questioning.

Learn About the Connecticut Pretrial School Violence Prevention Program

As a parent, you are probably worried that your child’s arrest will negatively affect their future. Fortunately, there may be a way to get your child’s charges dismissed. If your child has been accused of physically harming another child or threatening physical violence, they may qualify for the Connecticut Pretrial School Violence Prevention Program. This program aims to educate youth offenders instead of punishing them. To qualify for the program, the student and their parents or guardians must swear that they do not possess drugs, firearms, dangerous weapons, or other illicit materials. The student must also consent to extending the statute of limitations for the case. The program lasts one year and involves group counseling and lessons in anger management and conflict resolution. If the student finishes the program, the charges against them are dismissed and their record is sealed. This means that the record will not be visible to the general public.

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Stamford CT juvenile defense attorneyAs a parent, it can be extremely disheartening to watch your child make bad decisions. This is especially true if your child makes a mistake that leads to criminal charges. If your son or daughter has been convicted of drug possession, driving under the influence of alcohol, assault, theft, or another offense, you may worry about how this will affect the rest of their life. You may worry about your child being labeled a criminal for something that they did when they were very young. Fortunately, you may be able to get your child’s record expunged.

Expungement and Sealing of a Juvenile Record

Juvenile criminal cases are handled differently depending on the severity of the crime, the juvenile’s age, and other factors. If your child’s case was decided in juvenile court, they are a “juvenile offender” or “juvenile delinquent.” This is not the same as being convicted of a crime in the way that adult offenders are convicted of a crime. Juvenile offenses or “delinquencies” may be expunged if:

  • The juvenile is 18 years old or older.

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Fairfield County juvenile defense attorneyThe term “sexting” is used to describe sending text messages, emails, or social media communications of a sexual nature. Often, sexting involves sending explicit photographs or videos. Many teenagers see sexting as harmless fun, but the consequences of sending explicit media can be profound. Many teenagers have had their private photographs leaked to unintended recipients and suffered other humiliating consequences. Furthermore, sending and receiving explicit photographs can lead to criminal charges including charges for child pornography.

Personal Consequences of Sexting

Teens may send sexual messages to get attention, to “fit in” with their peers, or for countless other reasons. Many teens think that sending messages through certain social media platforms like Snapchat ensures that the photograph or video cannot be saved and shared. However, nothing sent through the internet is ever completely private. According to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, sexting can lead to ridicule, embarrassment, and even mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

Legal Implications for Sending Sexual Images in Connecticut

Child pornography refers to photographs, videos, and other media that depict children in a sexual manner. Many teens do not realize that by sending sexually explicit photographs of themselves, they may technically be sending child pornography. Prior to recent changes in Connecticut law, there was no distinction between traditional child pornography and teen sexting. While the law now distinguishes between these two issues, sexting involving minors is still unlawful.

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Fairfield CT juvenile defense lawyerAs any parent can tell you, raising a teenager can be quite challenging. Despite your best efforts to teach him or her to make good choices, your child may sometimes do things you disagree with. Your child may even have ended up in legal trouble because of his or her decisions. Unfortunately, this could mean that you find yourself financially responsible.

Learning that your child has been charged with a crime or accused of causing damages to a person or their property can be a shocking and confusing situation to go through. If your child has recently been charged with a criminal offense, it is important to work with an attorney who is experienced in the juvenile justice system and can provide legal support and guidance.

Parental Responsibility for the Actions of Minors in Connecticut

Chapter 925 of the Connecticut state law statutes, Statutory Rights of Action and Defenses, describes when a child’s parents or legal guardians are liable for the child’s actions. According to the law, a parent or guardian is responsible if their child “willfully or maliciously” causes property damage or bodily injury. The term “willfully or maliciously” is generally interpreted to mean acting in a way that is unjustified and almost certain to cause injury. If a child causes harm to another person or to another party’s property without a valid reason for doing so, his or her parents may be responsible for the harm. The law places a $5,000 cap on parents’ liability for the actions of their child. However, there may be exceptions for offenses based on common law.

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Fairfield CT juvenile defense attorneyTeenagers sometimes make impulsive decisions that land them in legal trouble. If your son or daughter has been charged with a criminal offense, you may be very concerned about the consequences he or she will face. Minors are typically tried in juvenile court. Unlike adult court, juvenile courtrooms are closed to the public and juvenile records are sealed. In most cases, a juvenile offender may eventually petition to have his or her criminal record erased. Incarceration sentences are also typically shorter for juveniles than they are for adults, and juveniles are held in a juvenile detention center instead of an adult correctional facility. However, there are many cases in which a juvenile may be tried as an adult and subject to adult consequences.

Connecticut Laws Regarding Juvenile Offenses

If your child is at least 14 years old and has been charged with a Class A or Class B felony offense, he or she will be tried as an adult. Crimes such as kidnapping, arson, sexual assault, homicide, and armed robbery typically result in a teenaged offender being transferred to the adult criminal system. However, a teenager who is subject to the adult criminal system also has the same Constitutional rights as an adult criminal defendant. He or she has the right to remain silent, consult with an attorney, decline police questioning, and more.

For other offenses, whether or not a juvenile is tried as an adult is often up to the juvenile prosecutor’s discretion. If your child was accused of selling or manufacturing drugs, assault with a weapon, vehicular homicide, certain weapons violations, or another felony offense, it is possible that he or she may be treated as an adult during criminal proceedings. Some of the factors that prosecutors consider when deciding whether or not to try a youth as an adult include:

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